BOISE, Idaho — Success in the 2010-11 marketing year for the Idaho Potato Commission will be partly determined on blue turf at Boise State University.

A national championship by Boise State would be a cherry on the top of a successful partnership with Boise State University and the University of Idaho football teams, said Frank Muir, president of the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission.

“A national championship by Boise State would be nice,” he said.

Muir said other elements of a successful year include broader consumer recognition and demand for the Grown in Idaho seal and expanded export markets for fresh potatoes.

Muir said the launch of the Idaho Potato Commission’s new television commercial focusing on the Grown in Idaho seal — first aired during the Boise State University and Virginia Tech University football game on Sept. 5 — is aimed to pave the way for stronger consumer demand for the grown in Idaho seal.

“We want to further seed in consumers’ minds to look for that seal, rather than assuming that potatoes are grown in Idaho,” Muir said.

Idaho Potato Commission research suggests consumers prefer potatoes from Idaho over those from any other state, he said.

Ryan Wahlen, general manager at Pleasant Valley Potato Inc., Aberdeen, said likes what the commission has been able to accomplish.

“I think Idaho so far in this harvest has maintained a premium relations to the other states, especially for carton pricing,” he said. “I attribute a lot of that to the commission.”

In February, the Idaho Potato Commission plans to begin using the American Heart Association checkmark on commission advertising and publicity.

Shippers also will be able to use the checkmark for a discounted fee, he said.

Muir said nearly two-thirds of consumers report that the American Heart Association’s heart check influences their shopping choices.

“This is basically the American Heart Association saying potatoes from Idaho are good for your heart,” he said.
Commission spokeswoman Denise Austin will do a satellite media tour to announce the campaign.

Muir also said expanding fresh export markets for Idaho potatoes is an important 2010-11 goal.

Muir and Seth Pensler, vice president of international trade and retail for the Idaho Potato Commission, left Sept. 9 for an extended trade mission to Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Muir and Pensler met with importers and distributors of fresh potatoes in each of those countries.

In addition, state and national potato industry leaders continue to work on expanding Idaho potato access in Mexico.
“We are doing everything we can to work with the Mexican government, through and with national organization, to open up access beyond the 26 kilometers,” Muir said.